2013 Award Winner: STEM-Direct, UNO
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has announced that the 2013 winners of the Peter Kiewit Student Entrepreneurial Award are Robert LaMagna-Reiter, Felix Burgstaller and Manas Bharadwaj, master’s students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who together have developed a business plan for a startup called STEM-Direct. The enterprise will provide affordable online tutoring to high school and college students in science, technology, engineering and math – fields that are widely acknowledged to be building blocks of a competitive economy.
STEM-Direct will offer tutoring services made possible through partnerships with schools, universities and business. Partners will be based primarily in Omaha although the students’ business plan can be scaled nationally.
According to the students’ business plan: “With the increasing use of technology in different areas of business across industries, there is an unparalleled demand for professionals with skills in STEM areas.” A report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded that the United States need to produce 1 million more STEM graduates than its current rate.
Yet despite this high demand, U.S. students do not compare favorably against students in other countries on STEM assessment tests. The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that many students cannot afford expensive tutoring to supplement their coursework. STEM-Direct will provide quality tutoring at an affordable cost so that more students can be prepared for college and career success.
“One of the most important things the University of Nebraska can do to ensure a competitive, vibrant economy is nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our students,” Milliken said. “The team behind STEM-Direct provides an excellent example of how students can leverage their University of Nebraska education into a product that will serve people in the state and grow the economy. I commend these students for identifying a real need in the market and thinking of a creative way to meet it.”